The young man who shot and killed six Muslims at a Quebec City mosque last year said in his police interrogation video that his views on immigration lined up with those of President Donald Trump, and that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s welcoming of refugees triggered him before he carried out the attack.
Asked why he chose to carry out the attack at the Grand Mosque, Alexandre Bissonnette told the interrogating officer that he wanted to “save people” from “terrorist attacks,” The Globe and Mail reported at his sentencing hearing this week.
Bissonnette, 28, pleaded guilty to six counts of first-degree murder and six counts of attempted murder last month, and prosecutors are arguing for him to receive a life in prison without parole.
In the interrogation video, Bissonnette said he told himself he “could do something good,” in reference to unspecified events in Europe, Canada, and the U.S.
Asked if his views were in line with Donald Trump’s, Bissonnette asked for clarification. When the officer asked about immigration, specifically, Bissonnette said, “On that, sure,” The Globe reported.
Bissonnette said he started thinking about the attack at the time of the 2014 Parliament Hill shooting, in which a Muslim convert named Michael Zehaf-Bibeau fatally shot Corporal Nathan Cirillo, A Canadian soldier. He thought about it again in 2016 following an attack in Nice, France where 85 people were killed after a truck driven by Mohamed Lahouaieej-Bouhlel plowed into a crowd celebrating Bastille Day.
Bissonnette told the officer that he didn’t want “them” to come kill his family.
On the day of the Quebec City mosque attack, Bissonnette said he’d been following news coverage of Trump’s Muslim ban and Trudeau’s subsequent welcome message to refugees on Twitter.
“To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada,” Trudeau wrote in a much-criticized tweet, which has been blamed for thousands of people walking across the Canada-U.S. border to seek asylum in Canada.
“I was listening to TV and I learned that the Canadian government was going to take more refugees, you know, who couldn’t go to the United States, and they were coming here," Bissonnette said, according to The Globe.
“I saw that and I like lost my mind. I don’t want us to become like Europe. I don’t want them to kill my parents, my family," he continued.
Bissonnette’s sentencing hearing will continue next week, and a sentence is expected later this year.